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New Uptime assessment scores your IT efficiency

A new Uptime Institute assessment gives IT a system of benchmarks to improve efficiency and sustainability.

SANTA CLARA -- The server sprawl and waste that is common in data centers is a poor foundation for emerging te...

chnologies.

That's the message sent by leaders at the Uptime Institute, which introduced a new assessment for efficiency and sustainability at its Uptime Institute Symposium this week.

"The stakes are higher, more so than ever, to manage efficiency," as pressure continues on the enterprise to transform, said Julian Kudritzki, COO of the Uptime Institute, during the opening keynote.

Efficiency begins to have greater value when an enterprise, for example, finds 4,000 zombie servers, said Cameron Wynne, vice president of operation and development for Data Foundry, a colocation provider in Austin, Texas who heard Kudritzki speak.

"It becomes more of an issue as you scale," Wynne said.

Data Foundry's challenge is to get tenants in its data centers to fill each space -- like playing a game of Tetris.

"The discipline of the market forces you to consolidate and be efficient," said Edward Henigin, the company's CTO.

The focus on eliminating comatose servers in the data center comes as Uptime -- known for its Tier certifications -- introduced the Efficient IT Stamp of Approval. It allows data centers to get certified using a numerical scores based on factors that look at the data center's leadership, operations and design that combines to provide what Uptime says is the first holistic, third-party assessment for IT efficiency and sustainability.

It benchmarks a company's achievements in terms of planning, decision making, actions, and monitoring to improve asset use and extend lifecycles across compute, storage, networks, and the entire data center, according to Uptime.

The certification can be a "touchstone" for all layers of an organization to undertake a server roundup or similar effort. For years, there has been focus on power and cooling efficiency but less attention on IT efficiency.

Last year, an Uptime Institute survey found that 45% of data centers had no scheduled audits of asset utilization. The same survey found that 60% of data center operators do not consider reducing IT cost or resource consumption a top priority for their organization.

Doing a server roundup once will yield beneficial results but it will need to be done again in four years, Kudritzki said. Instead, the problems it solves should be addressed at the management process level -- one of the major goals of the new stamp of approval.

"Show us -- on a continuing basis -- that asset utilization is pursued consistently," Kudritzki said.

A push to have multiple teams in the data center work together is another theme of this year's Symposium -- especially since it takes more than one person to do an enterprise-wide server roundup. Kudritzki also encouraged businesses to have a chargeback or showback system set up for the cost of new IT purchases.

"Knowing what things cost opens up a great understanding," he said.

One example is United Airlines, which, after merging with Continental Airlines, worked to consolidate nine data centers into two. The company brought together the finance group with security, IT and corporate real estate to justify the need for the project.

The Efficient IT Stamp of Approval has two levels: Approved and Activated. Approved means the data center met the Uptime Institute's protocols for industry excellence, and the stamps are valid for two years. Companies that have formally committed to the Uptime Institute's Efficient IT principles, and use the program to improve efficiency, receive an Activated Stamp, which is valid for one year.

Early adopters of Uptime Institute Efficient IT include leading integrated healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente, with two Stamps of Approval, and Mexico-based CEMEX, a large building materials companies, has an Activated stamp for its site in Monterrey.

Uptime Institute officials declined to provide pricing for its IT efficiency assessment, saying it varies from site to site and by the size of the job. The organization claims the cost of the actual assessment can be negligible compared to the savings.

Robert Gates covers data centers, data center strategies, server technologies, converged and hyperconverged infrastructure and open source operating systems for SearchDataCenter. Follow him @RBGatesTT

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